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Monday , October 14 2013
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Love Letters to Music: Pixies

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By David H.

The music world is a rather vast and expansive land full of amazing artistry that is so massive that navigating what comes out next, can sometimes clutter what we missed before.  There are literally times where I find out that I missed a new release by a past artist I claim to love, because I was wrapped up in another artist from the present.  If I had to give anyone a gift about what has come before, a graduation concession on music if you will; it would be discovery on what you may have missed.  It may be an album that’s rather new, it may be an act you’ve never heard of, and it might be someone everyone knows; but they’re all artists that one shouldn’t pass up.  They are, Love Letters to Music.

Back when I was a junior at Jersey Village high school, a friend of mine turned me on to a band that would go on to be my favorite band of all time, Pixies.  I remember it vividly, as if there was a white ring glowing around the jewel case for “Bossanova.”  “Listen to this,” he said.  I popped the CD into my Discman inside my Dodge Dynasty, and my world changed forever.  From the start of the instrumental opener, “Cecilia Ann” to the dreamy close of “Havalina”, I was in love.

So, of course, when “Trompe Le Monde” came out two weeks later, I immediately purchased it.  Back then, Montrose was littered with independent record stores, all of which have since vanished.  I combed through racks of European released singles to pick up every Pixies single from every record.  I even purchased albums that Pixies had appeared on.  Things like the Leonard Cohen covers album, “I’m Your Fan” and an insanely expensive Elektra Records anniversary box set with a Pixies cover of a Paul Butterfield Blues Band song.  Pretty much anything that was Pixies, I had multiple copies of.

 So, when I had the chance to pay an insane amount of money to see Pixies open up for U2 on the Zoo TV tour, I did.  And, when I had the chance to see them again at the now defunct Washington Avenue club, The Abyss; I did again.  And, both times were amazing and they completely justified the anger my mom gave me over my “Surfer Rosa” poster and the fact that I had Pixies stuff everywhere.  And then, NME posted a cover story, “Pixies Break Up!”.  And I would have to sit back and wade through what came afterward.

 Sure, we got “Last Splash” from The Breeders, and those first three Frank Black albums were pretty great.  I got to see the sisters Deal also at The Abyss, and Frank Black at Tower Theater, now a Tex-Mex place.  And sure, I also had Frank Black introduce me to The Ramones because I caught him open for them and I left the show to get his autograph; and he took me back through the backstage to see the Ramones set. Which was very cool.  But, all of that was not new Pixies music.

 So, when a friend of mine wanted to give me the ultimate birthday gift in 2004; I got to see the Pixies reunion show at Coachella. I was elated.  Very seldom, do you get a chance to see someone you admire and adore when they were originally around, and when they reunite.  So, a great Warren Zevon cover, whatever the hell “Bam Thwok” was, and I attended several more reunion gigs; but no new music.  At the five year mark, I had a feeling that new new music would come.  We got a box set, that I didn’t buy or really want.  Honestly, I was heartbroken.

 A reunion means nothing without new music.  A band would get pretty tiresome seeing the same set list for twenty years performed over and over.  I’m not an Eagles fan nor am I a KISS fan, but even they released new albums upon reuniting.  I starting bitching to friends, to Frank Black on twitter, to anyone who’d listen about why there should be new Pixies music.  Two more tours, a small break in time, then Kim Deal quits.  Then, “Bagboy” is dropped on the public.  I can say that I like the music, but I hate the vocal set up.  So, when I got an email about a new EP, I downloaded it blindly; but with concern.

 A ton of people I know, I like, and critics have complained about this new Pixies titled “EP 1.”  I don’t understand the complaints,  it’s good.  It’s not “Bone Machine” nor is it “Debaser”.  But, to be fair, their last two albums weren’t like their first three, anyway.  The opener “Andro Queen” has the Spanish inserted vocals from their early releases coupled with the dreary notes of “Bossanova.”  “Another Toe In The Ocean” feels like a softer version of “Letter To Memphis.”  The third track, “Indie Cindy” actually sealed the deal for me, and literally brought a tear to my eyes when I first heard it.  It was all I wanted as a fan, an actual thought out song that merges the past with the present.  The final song, “What Goes Boom” sounds eerily like “Levitate Me” when the vocals start.  It’s great music for people like me who have waited over twenty years for something new, and it’s not like it’s “Psycho Circus”.

As far as those who say Pixies aren’t the same without Kim Deal, they obviously don’t realize that the principle songwriter and singer is still in the band in Black Francis.  I watched the iTunes festival online with new bassist Kim Shattuck of The Muffs.  I have to say that I saw something I never saw at a Pixies show before; a bassist getting down and playing with enthusiasm.  If you go see the The Rolling Stones, Black Flag, or even Foo Fighters live, you aren’t seeing them in their original incarnations anyway.  Does it matter?

 In the end, it’s all opinion.  I can’t wait to see this new incarnation of Pixies live, hear the new songs live; and look forward to a band that’s had new life breathed into them.  As a fan,  with the promise of at least three more EP’s produced by long time Pixies collaborator Gil Norton; the future looks great.

 

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